Staff and students are celebrating today as Heart of Worcestershire College has won a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award for the 'Effective Use of Technology in FE'. The award, sponsored by Jisc, was announced at the AoC Annual Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday 18 November.
The college has introduced a complete blended learning model, where some of the teaching is delivered online, across the whole of its curriculum. It has allowed it to create a culture where the use of online learning is expected and normal, and has let the students develop independent and autonomous learning skills.
Through this approach, the college can better monitor students’ work; when it is completed and submitted and then assessed online. It provides personal study and technical support as well as support to teaching staff, allowing them to develop e-learning content through accredited training.
The assessors for the award felt that other further education (FE) colleges would benefit from learning about the approach at the Heart of Worcestershire College.
Pete Scott, director Jisc group customer services said:
“This is the second year that Jisc has sponsored this award, and yet again, we are honoured to recognise the innovation and creativity inherent within the FE and skills sector. All submissions were of the highest standards, and the assessment panel had an incredibly difficult task in shortlisting and selecting our esteemed winner.
“Witnessing first-hand the application of technology in our shortlisted applicants gives me great confidence that our vision of supporting the UK to be the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world is not only achievable, but in some cases, is already there. The FE and skills sector is truly an incubator for innovation and excellence that we must share.”
Peter Kilcoyne, ILT director, Heart of Worcestershire College, added:
“This award recognises the many ways in which Heart of Worcestershire College leads the sector in the use of digital technologies. We do this to enrich and enhance the experiences of our students on their learning journeys across all curriculum areas.
“The information and learning technology team have been presented with this award for the work they have done in supporting our teaching colleagues in embedding online learning into the curriculum. The award also recognises their efforts in supporting other learning providers across the country in developing online learning opportunities, and the work that’s been done in partnership with computer aid international to support online learning in a number of African universities.”
Chair of the AoC Beacon Awards, Dame Pat Bacon, said:
“Heart of Worcestershire College represents one of fourteen outstanding initiatives which have been granted a prestigious AoC Beacon Award this year.
“Each year, the calibre of the winning applications increases and I am always impressed by the innovative and creative ways in which colleges continue to help students reach their potential.
“As the sector as a whole continues to support the economic recovery of this country, these Beacon Award winners are helping to shine a spotlight on the outstanding means by which colleges are embracing new technologies and partnerships to achieve this. These colleges are showing the way for others to emulate their excellent work.”
Roger Marriott, AoC Beacon Awards chief assessor, said:
“I have the privilege of reading all shortlisted applications and assessors’ reports for these awards and there are some truly inspirational initiatives which are enabling colleges to better support students, businesses and their communities.
“The quality of the shortlisted applications has been outstanding and all are to be congratulated. It was tough deciding the winners for the awards and Heart of Worcestershire College can be rightly proud of its achievement.”
Heart of Worcestershire College will host a local celebration event in the New Year and will be presented with its award by Nick Boles MP, minister of state for skills and equalities at a national presentation ceremony due to be held at Westminster on 4 February 2015.